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Meadows Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Students To Give Presentations at Second Annual Dallas Festival of Ideas, Feb. 19-20

Event, themed “The United City,” hopes to map out progressive new future for Dallas

Dallas Arts District

Meadows faculty, staff, alumni and students will be among the presenters in the second annual Dallas Festival of Ideas, to be held Feb. 19 and 20 at Fair Park. The event, sponsored by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and The Dallas Morning News, brings together a variety of innovative speakers, along with programs and performances, focusing on ideas for the future of Dallas in five areas: as an educated city, entrepreneurial city, healthy city, literary city and physical city. The festival will be immediately followed by an action phase to begin implementing some of the best ideas presented.

This year’s theme is “The United City.” In a story in the Morning News, Larry Allums, executive director of The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, said, “With all its diversity of passions, talents and interests, can a city become united? We believe it’s a worthy goal for Dallas – one we can approach only through bringing people together and giving them the opportunity to speak and to listen.”

The headlining panels will be held on the main stage of the Fair Park Music Hall. The Entrepreneurial City panel, featuring entrepreneur/author/activist/philanthropist Russell Simmons as keynote speaker, is presented in partnership with SMU Meadows and will include Trey Bowles, Meadows adjunct lecturer and co-founder of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, as one of the panelists. The Educated City panel will feature Clyde Valentín, director of Meadows’ Ignite/Arts Dallas program, as a panelist. The Literary City panel will be moderated by journalism alumna Lauren Smart, adjunct journalism faculty member and arts and culture editor for The Dallas Observer.

Additional panels and performances will be held concurrently in the Women’s Museum at Fair Park. A morning session titled “Social Impact: The Role of the Entrepreneur to Give Back to the Community” will feature Communication Studies alumna Brittany Merrill Underwood, president and founder of the Akola Project. An afternoon session titled “How Can Dallas Attract and Retain Its Creative Talent?” will be moderated by Zannie Voss, chair of Meadows’ Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship Division. The Meadows Arts Entrepreneurship program is also partnering on two other presentations: a student pitch contest, in which three SMU student groups pitch their big ideas and audience members decide the winners, and an award-winning interactive game-based workshop, developed and led by Assistant Professor and Director of Arts Entrepreneurship Jim Hart; the workshop includes a series of games and exercises that teach participants how to be proactive as entrepreneurs. Also representing the Meadows School will be the Cézanne Quartet, the inaugural Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence, which will perform on the Women’s Museum stage.

Other SMU participants include Dedman professor and chair of English Darryl Dickson Carr as a Literary City panelist; Kate Canales, research professor and director of design and innovation programs at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, as a Physical City panelist; Eric Bing, professor of global health and director of SMU’s Institute for Leadership Impact, as a Healthy City panelist; and SMU’s Social Innovation Forum as a partner in the “Social Impact” panel session. In addition, the Cox School of Business entrepreneurship department will have a “Peanuts”-like advice stand, charging five cents for entrepreneurial advice.

The purpose of the event is not simply to talk about ideas, but to put them into action. Several initiatives generated by the inaugural Festival of Ideas in 2015 are now under way, including creation of a hyper-local, Kickstarter-style website to help fund various needs and creation of a “Mobile Cultural Unit” providing artistic outreach to underserved communities.

General admission to the event is free, but registration is required; for more information and to register, visit here.

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